Don't you love a play-on-words? I do and this title is a great one.
Read on and meet C.C. Harrison. It even caught me, as I'd put in "A G-String"!!
Read on and meet C.C. Harrison. It even caught me, as I'd put in "A G-String"!!
Welcome to An Indie Adventure, C. C. Harrison. Tell us, what inspired you to write DEATH BY G-STRING, a Coyote Canyon Ladies Ukulele Club mystery?
After I sold four books, I decided to take a hiatus from writing so I could catch up on my life. One night I saw actress Zooey Deschanel on television playing a ukulele. Something about that intrigued me, and I stopped what I was doing to watch. Then I noticed I was hearing the ukulele being played on TV commercials, and in pop music. About that same time, Heidi Swedberg of the fabulous Sukey Jump Band came to my local library to give ukulele lessons, and she was bringing ukuleles to use. Something compelled me to check it out.
Heidi gave everyone in class a ukulele to use, and the minute that ukulele was in my hands, I didn't want to give it back. By the end of the lesson, I could play a simple two chord song, and I was absolutely hooked. The next day, I went out and bought a soprano ukulele, a chord chart and a book of easy beginner songs. That ukulele, one of several I now own, was never out of my sight.
After I bought my first ukulele (then another and another and another—no one told me how addictive this ukulele thing was) I turned my attention to music instead of writing. But it wasn't long before a ukulele themed mystery series began swirling in my mind. I batted the idea away, and focused on music, eventually making my coffee shop debut. (Let me tell you about that! Everyone was eating lunch and paid absolutely no attention to me up there at the microphone.)
Not long after, I met author Catriona McPherson at a writers conference. She just about jumped out of her chair when I mentioned the ukulele book idea that wouldn't let go of me. I hadn’t yet written a word, didn't even have a character or a fully developed plot in mind, but it was her encouragement that shot me like a rocket back to the computer.
Now I write and play. I have a Luna soprano ukulele, a Kohala tenor ukulele, a Fender tenor ukulele, a Makala baritone ukulele, a Lanakai baritone ukulele, two Martin acoustic guitars, a handmade Black Mountain Appalachian dulcimer, and a McNally minstrel dulcimer. I tend to play American folk and country music on the ukuleles, traditional and classical Old English folk music on the dulcimers, and a little (very little) classic rock in the Eagles, Marshall Tucker Band, and Doobie Brothers leitmotif on the guitars.
So, now I tell people I was born to be a rock star, but I write books instead.
If you were not a writer, what vocation would you pursue?
I would have liked to be a lawyer, or a National Park Ranger. I think the latter was inspired by Nevada Barr's National Park mysteries. The job always seemed so very interesting. Then, many years later I interviewed a park ranger for an article I was writing. His daily work activities were incredibly interesting. Did you know the National Park Service has crime investigators? Since then, I've met several park rangers and I have to say I've never met one who didn't absolutely love the job.
Do you prefer to read in the same genre you write in, or do you avoid reading that genre? Why?
I don't avoid my genre. I have to read it to know what's being published and what readers like and are interested in. I read mystery, suspense, true crime, some biography, some history, some Westerns. But I don't have a lot of time to read for pleasure at the moment. I have four books in various stages of development right now. Watch for a Michigan Mystery series some time next year.
How do you create internal and external conflict in your characters? I find conflict often the hardest to create when I start planning a book.
Yes, I did, too, at first, and that's the reason I gave up writing romance novels. I couldn't come up with enough conflict in a love relationship to make an interesting story. And I had trouble coming up with a happily ever after, too. So I switched to writing crime novels and now have no trouble finding all kinds of conflict and trouble. In fact, I have more story ideas than I have time to write. My new book is a cozy mystery, and I did slip some romantic conflict in there, but it isn't enough to carry a whole book. I tend to write female characters that are a little older now, in their thirties, they've been around, and are carrying some baggage about past relationships. That tends to make them leery of getting too involved right away. Though they adore men, they all step carefully and move slowly before committing to a relationship.
If you could live during any era of history, which one would you choose?
Oh, that's easy. I'd live in the old West. Without a doubt, I would have been one of the first to jump on a wagon train heading West. I was born and raised in Michigan, but I have always felt connected to the West. First chance I had, I moved to Colorado and have lived there most of my life, everywhere from Denver to Cortez. I'm in Arizona now, but plan to go back.
Recently, I watched a movie called, "Meek's Cutoff." This is a film for people who, like me, think they came West in a covered wagon in a previous life. I not only watched this movie, I experienced it!! Wide, long, extended camera shots showed the desolation of the high desert passage, and it was all so familiar to me. I could hear the insects in the prairie grass, the flapping of the wagon canvas, the clanging of the metal pots and pans, the animals huffing. I could feel the wind dusting my face, whipping up the skirts and bonnets of the women. I was there!
A few years ago, I wrote an Old West Historical, "SAGE CANE'S HOUSE OF GRACE AND FAVOR." It's about a young city girl trying to make her way, and stay safe, in a fledgling mining town in the mountains of Colorado. I swear that book was channeled to me! Every word fell out of my mind onto the keyboard. I'm convinced one of my past lives was lived back then. That book turned out to be the one my readers seemed to favor. Very few print copies exist anymore, but it is available as an e-book on Amazon.
The tiny mountain town of Coyote Canyon in my book was inspired by Crested Butte, one of my most favorite places in Colorado. Crested Butte readers, or those familiar with Crested Butte, might recognize some of the thinly veiled places in which I set scenes.
Here's what the book is about:
The Coyote Canyon Ladies Ukulele Club is gearing up for a ukulele competition when their flamboyant star player, Kiki Jacquenette, is found strangled to death with a ukulele G-string. Not only is a first place win in jeopardy, the entire folk music festival is put on the verge of collapse. A murderer on the loose is sure to keep tourists away.
Canyon Chronicle editor Viva Winter had hoped to make Coyote Canyon the folk music capitol of the Colorado mountains, and was also trying to raise money to help repay the townspeople bilked by her father’s phony investment scheme. With much to be gained by the death of her father’s largest investor, Viva soon comes under suspicion, so must uncover the truth before her whole life turns into a sour note, and a tourist trade boom falls flat.
DEATH BY G-STRING will be out the 14th, but it can be pre-ordered here.
After it's released, it will be available on Amazon and in book stores.
C. C. Harrison is an award-winning author who knew she was going to write novels when she finished her first beginning reader library book as a child. Since then her work has been honored both regionally and nationally with writing awards for her short stories, articles, essays and novels.
THE CHARMSTONE and PICTURE OF LIES are mysteries set in Monument Valley on the Navajo Indian Reservation where she lived as a VISTA volunteer. RUNNING FROM STRANGERS, set in Durango, Colorado is the story of a child advocate on the run with a child in her care.
In a departure from her contemporary mysteries, SAGE CANE'S HOUSE OF GRACE AND FAVOR, written as Christy Hubbard, is an Old West historical that depicts one woman's attempt to bring civility to the wild and wooly inhabitants of a fledgling Colorado mining town.
She lives in Arizona where she has several new books in various stages of development: DON'T FRET THE SMALL STUFF, second in the Coyote Canyon Ladies Ukulele Club Mystery series; and BAD DEEDS and HOT MESS, the first two books in a Michigan Mystery series. When she's not writing, reading or working out at the gym, she can be found in the mountains of Colorado or in some far-flung corner of the Southwest.